On a recent Friday morning I was in the midst of a fierce stare-down with a can of chicken noodle soup on a shelf beneath my desk. I had already had two of its shelf mates earlier that week, and by 11:30 a.m., I knew I needed a plan without a can. But I also knew I didn’t want to venture too far out in the world to procure my lunch.
Three minutes later, after a fast and furious search of the vicinity on Google maps, I was out the door and my trusty Waze app (I’m geographically challenged) brought me to Ocean Gardens Restaurant & Tavern in Gorham, just 6 miles from my office.
I arrived just before noon and was surprised to see the place so quiet. In its defense, it was a brutally dreary day, and by the time I left about a half-hour later, a few more parties had arrived. Also, over in the tavern area, I spotted about five assorted gentleman all day-drinking, one with what looked an awful lot like a martini. I had half a mind to join them, but seeing I was due back at work, I opted for dining-room seating.
Ocean Gardens is one part family restaurant and one part tavern, and it’s all comfortable and cozy. Speaking of cozy, I chose a table by the gas fireplace to help take the March chill off.
The menu offered a wide range of options, including burgers, sandwiches, pasta dinners and steak entrees. It also lived up to its name with many lunch and dinner selections of the seafood variety, including several variations of lobster, haddock, salmon, scallops, clams and shrimp. Ocean Gardens also offers house-made crab cakes, lobster stew and seafood, haddock and clam chowders. There’s surely something for every kind of eater, except maybe for vegetarians and vegans.
Although I’m not much of a seafood aficionado, there are a few things I love, and one of them is shrimp, so I ordered a single colossal shrimp cocktail ($3.25). I was able to make it a four-bite affair, and it was delicious.
Having just secured a spot to run in the Beach to Beacon 10K this summer, I need to make proper nutrition a priority, as it’s a key element to my training. I felt like the shrimp was a solid step in the right direction. However, since I’ve also mastered the art of self-sabotage, my next ordering decision colored way outside those lines. But I sure did love my order of chicken fingers. I was asked if I wanted them tossed in sauce, and I nodded my head enthusiastically and opted for old-school barbecue. These things were heavenly and I devoured every morsel.
For my side, I went with onion rings. Now I don’t mean to shock anyone, but I only ate half of them. They were fine: crunchy and hot. I guess I don’t love onion rings as much as I thought I did, and I guess I should recognize that if I am going to eat breaded and fried chicken fingers, slathered in barbecue sauce, I may as well accompany them with what is among my favorite foods – french fries.
I imagine Ocean Gardens does quite well for itself, especially on nights and weekends. It’s run by a tight-knit group of family and friends, and the prices are reasonable. Next time, maybe I’ll go with a gaggle of gal pals, and we’ll hit the tavern and have a drink with the boys.
WHERE: 390 Main St. (Route 25), Gorham
INFO: (207) 839-7651, oceangardensrestaurant.com
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
WAIT: About 10 minutes
PARKING: Yes, parking lot
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes